November 16, 2011

The Emotional Effects of Reading

You’ve probably heard it said that reading is a way to experience another world, to check out of reality temporarily, to get “lost.” And I would definitely agree.

But reading is also a way to find something: truth.

There’s no doubt that the written word is a powerful thing. And when we read something that rings true to us, we can experience a range of emotions.

Like happiness when something is funny. Or fear when we’re not sure what’s really around the corner. Or sadness, regret, frustration, doubt.

Or deep, abiding joy.

Something I read this last weekend gave me that kind of joy.

I’m reading C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters for the first time (I know, I know, what took me so long?!) and if you aren’t familiar with the premise, let me tell you a bit about it. Basically, the book is a collection of “letters” written by an older demon to his nephew. So when he talks about “Our Enemy,” he means God. The older demon is giving his nephew advice on how to thwart humans and keep them from God.

One passage in particular nearly turned me into a puddle of joy. In this simple excerpt, the demon describes the differences between the dark side and God:

“To us a human is primarily food. … We want cattle who can finally become food; He [God] wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below [Satan] has drawn all other beings into himself; the Enemy wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct.”

Do you feel the power in this poignant narrative? Does it draw something up from within you, warm you with assurance, and give you the desire to cry out to God in gratitude?

That’s the way it affected me. I’m so thankful for authors like Lewis who speak the Truth to my heart, who remind me of God's goodness and His graciousness in creating me and wanting a relationship with me.

And I hope, someday, as an author, to have the privilege of writing something that will turn readers toward the only One who matters in all of this anyway.

Your Turn: Do you find yourself affected emotionally when you read? What have you read lately that affected you?


  1. Thank you for sharing, I will admit I have not read that book. However, it is on my list (I have a huge list).

    What I read influences how I feel. If I am reading a suspense I am tense, a love story sends me into planning a romantic dinner for my husband, the Bible brings hope/joy/peace/etc, you get the picture.

    The last book that really had an impact on me is one I have blogged on a few times. In fact I think I could spend a month of posts on this book. It is called Ascent from Darkness: How Satan's Soldier became God's Warrior.
    Here are the links that reference it.

    This is a true story of a man who was into Satanism and how God wouldn't let him go. Ultimately he came to Christ, but the battle is something we all need to read. This book will enlighten you on spiritual warfare. It's amazing!

  2. TC, that book sounds amazing. I'll have to put it on MY must-read list (also very long).

  3. I love when a writer creates a story that moves me emotionally. That's what I endeavor to do in mine.

  4. I agree, Keli! That's definitely my goal as well.

  5. I think it's Randy Ingermanson who says that people read because they want a "Powerful Emotional Experience". The more I write, the more I'm learning how hard it is to deliver that experience, lol, but that's what makes this journey so fun, right? :)

  6. All I can say is TRUE THAT, Sarah! :P